Remarks at the Inaugural Balls

January 20, 1981

Capital Hilton Hotel (8:40 p.m.)

Hello, veterans and your ladies, and thank you for allowing Nancy and me to interrupt your evening here for just a few minutes. [Laughter] Well, it is for only a few minutes, because I understand, on the logistics they've gotten for our schedule tonight, that if we get in and out of each one of the parties in 10 minutes, it will only take us 4\1/2\ hours. [Laughter] But this is number one, and in more ways than one.

I've been told that you are honoring here tonight, as well any of us should, our Congressional Medal of Honor winners. And when I think of them, I remember a story I read once, and it was actually a novel, written by James Warner Bella, who used to write those great cavalry-Indian pictures that John Ford and John Wayne would do. [Laughter] He was called the Kipling of America for writing of that great era in American history.

But I remembered in this one story he had troops, a cavalry detachment out, a war party, and so forth. And the commanding officer fell mortally wounded, and he called the next in command over, who was to take over. And the lines I've never forgotten. He said to him as he was dying, ``There may be only one time, one moment in your life when you will be called upon to do the nasty thing that has to be done, when you are the only one that can serve your country in that moment.'' He said, ``Do it or the taste will be forever ashes in your mouth.''

The men you honor tonight have no taste of ashes in their mouths. And [it is] because there were men and there are men today in this land of ours who are willing to do that thing that only they are in a position to do that we're able to meet as we meet tonight, we're able to have a day in which we continue 200 years of an orderly exchange of leadership and reigns of authority in our Government without military overthrow or force or violence, that we're able to still breathe free. And God help us, that must always remain.

When Alexander Haig, in the hearing the other day before the Senate committee said, and said with no uncertainty, ``There are things for which we must be willing to fight,'' I think you're -- [applause].

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Mayflower Hotel (8:50 p.m.)

Well, Nancy and I are delighted to be here, even if it is only for a few minutes, because, as you know, we're traveling the whole circuit and trying to get to all of them tonight. But we've looked forward to this one, because all during the months of the campaign, I was so thrilled and excited to see so many of you at the various campaign meetings, at the events that our party was putting on. It has not always been thus. But you, the young people, were there and were there in strength, and I think because, in the wisdom that comes with youth, you also recognized that it was time for a change and that we've got to go in a different direction. [Applause]

You are going to take turns at dancing, aren't you? [Laughter]

But, more than that, you know, there is a first this time in this inaugural. Maybe you know about it; maybe you don't. But it was an idea -- one of the cochairmen, maybe both of them, Bob Gray and -- Charlie Wick -- I knew the name; I was trying to swallow. [Laughter]

But that first inaugural, not quite 200 years ago, people came by stagecoach. This time people are actually attending it by satellite, because while there are 10 such balls here in Washington tonight -- and Nancy and I are going to get to every one of them; they've given us 10 minutes in and out for each one -- in somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 cities in the United States, by satellite they, too, are having inaugural balls in which the screens will be carrying what is happening in the balls here in Washington. And all the proceeds from those balls will go to their own particular local charities.

Nancy and I thank you very much for all that you've done in the months past and thank you for being here tonight, for making this such a wonderful occasion. Thank you very much. Thank you.

I'll have one get-off line. I don't know how long you've been here or how much you've been caught up on something. But if you haven't been out, you will find that the lights on the Christmas tree are now lighted.

Washington Hilton Hotel (9:15 p.m.)

The President. Ladies and gentlemen, Nancy, my Mike, his wife, Colleen:

We're delighted to be here. I know that it can only be for a few minutes, because there are 10 of these, and we're going to get to all of them. And the fellows that are engineering getting us around say it's only going to take 4\1/2\ hours. [Laughter] We're delighted to be here, and thank all of you for your being here.

I think you might like to have a little news bulletin. I have just learned that the planes have landed in Algiers. Fifty-two -- and I just won't call them hostages; they were prisoners of war -- but they are all hale and hearty and are now, and you can imagine their happiness, they're preparing to board the American planes for the last leg of the trip to Wiesbaden. So, I thought you'd like to hear that.

You know, thanks to Bob Gray, who introduced me here, and to Charlie Wick, the two of them as cochairmen of this inaugural, you agree that it's been a pretty fine inaugural so far? [Cheers] I think it's been wonderful right down to those beautiful fireworks tonight that I hope you saw. And, incidentally, the Christmas tree lights have gone on.

But almost 200 years ago at the first inaugural, people came by stagecoach. This time people all over America, millions of people, are attending this one by satellite, because in addition to these 10 balls here in Washington, there are in the neighborhood of 100 going on in various cities throughout the United States, and they are receiving, participating in these balls by large-screen television, that is being bounced off the satellite to them. And in each one of those cities, all of the proceeds are going to the charity of the choice of that community, in their own community, going to charity.

So, again, I know we have to move on. But Nancy and I again just want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. This has been a wonderful day. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Audience. Mrs. Reagan!

Mrs. Reagan. Thank you. No, they just wanted me -- --

The President. They've got you saying something?

Mrs. Reagan. No, with them calling me to come up here.

The President. Oh, well, I'm glad you did.

Thank you very much.

I have finally decided I'm not going to wake up. It isn't a dream. [Laughter] It really happened.

But again, God bless you all. Thank you very much.

Sheraton-Washington Hotel (9:42 p.m.)

The President. Well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so very much, not only for that warm greeting but thank you also for being here, for being a part of what I think has been a very wonderful few days, thanks to the work of Bob Gray and Charlie Wick as cochairmen of this inaugural.

You have had a good time, haven't you? [Cheers] I was going to say I'd be sorry if you didn't, because Nancy and I have been enjoying it. [Laughter]

Audience [chanting]. Four more years! [Laughter]

The President. The wonderful entertainers who have donated their services to be here tonight, Ray Charles, all the others that are here -- I know that if I start on names -- I know that Wayne Newton is one. And I'm so grateful to him, because Wayne, throughout the whole campaign, was just constantly working in our behalf.

But could I, since they tell me that I don't have much time -- we're on the circuit. We're getting to all 10 of these, and they have worked it out and told us that it's only going to take us 4\1/2\ hours -- [laughter] -- if we don't talk too long here.

But I thought maybe that we could give you a little update on the news, because, being here, you probably haven't had that. The latest word we have is that our Americans -- and I never have felt comfortable calling them hostages; they are prisoners of war -- all 52 of them, hale and hearty, have landed in Algeria and are preparing to board the American planes that will take them to Germany.

[To Mrs. Reagan] You look lovely, nice.

But one other bit of news; perhaps you're familiar with this. You know, that first inaugural almost 200 years ago, people arrived by horseback and stagecoach. Tonight all over America, there are Americans that are at the inaugural by satellite, because in addition to these 10 balls here in Washington, there are probably in the neighborhood of a hundred in that many different cities all over America who are a part of this by closed-circuit television, participating in these. And the proceeds from those are going to the charities of those local communities as named by the communities themselves. So, we're doing some good with that.

I think we've taken our quota of time here again, but -- --

Audience. No!

The President. Well, no, there are more to go. There's wonderful entertainment, and I know there's wonderful music for all of you. And Nancy and I, the music has been in our hearts. So, we'll get back on the road.

Viva, ole. You're singing our song.

If what I said this morning, and I feel even more like it tonight when I look out here at all of you, there isn't anything we can't do, and together we're going to do it.

Thank you very much. God bless you. Thank you.

Shoreham Hotel (10:14 p.m.)

The President. Our host and hostess, to Mrs. Shipley, and I know that you've met our son and Doria, his wife, earlier, Charlie and Mrs. Wick:

You know, I have to open this not only by thanking all of you for being here, for all that you've done and to make this such a wonderful time and then for those -- to Bob Gray and Charlie Wick, who is cochairman, really put together what I think has been a very wonderful and enjoyable inaugural several days. I said several days, because it really has been going on, and it's been a wonderful thing.

I'm grateful to all the entertainers who are here, Bob Stack and all of them who are working so hard. I'm not going to try names, or I'll miss someone. And they have donated their services. They helped during the campaign, all of them. And we're grateful to them.

I thought that maybe I could just give you a little bit of a news item. Since you've been in here, you might not have heard this, known this. The latest word is -- and as I said in the places we've visited already tonight, I refuse to call them hostages; they're prisoners of war -- the last word I had, in Algeria they have deplaned from the Algerian planes, and they are preparing to get into the American planes, 52 of them, all of them hale and hearty, all of them just fine.

Now, we don't have very much time here, because they have us on the circuit. And they've told us that if we move right along that we can get to every ball, and it'll only take 4\1/2\ hours. [Laughter] So, we're delighted to -- this is number five.

Someone just said that Nancy's beautiful, and I agree with him. They want to hear from you. I think it's a command performance.

Mrs. Reagan. Well, thank you. I've left this to my husband all along, so you've surprised me. But thank you all for coming. And we're delighted to see you, and we hope that you're having as good a time as we're having. Thank you for everything you've done for us in the past, and we appreciate it, and we never would be here without you. And we love you all.

The President. Let me just conclude, because I know they're signaling that we have to move on. But let me just tell you this one thing, and this, again, is due to the people, our two cochairmen there, their plan, something unusual that's never happened before.

The people who came to the first inaugural almost 200 years ago, of course, did so on horseback and stagecoach. Today all over America, there are people that are attending this inaugural by satellite, because in addition to the 10 balls here in Washington, there are in the neighborhood of a hundred in cities all over the United States who are attending these balls by closed-circuit television, by satellite. And all of the money that they have raised in those towns for those balls is going to a local charity in each one of those communities.

And having said that, I'd just add as a postscript to what I said this morning. When I look at you -- and you're much closer -- [laughter] -- and I can see you better than I could this morning -- but I am more than ever convinced we don't have a thing to worry about, not the American people, because between all of us, between us, we're going to straighten things out, and we're going to take the high road.

Thank you.

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (10:40 p.m.)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you all very much for being here.

And first of all, I think you will agree with me that our cochairmen of the inaugural, Charles Wick, Bob Gray, have done a magnificent job. And the people here, your host, Ed McMahon, the entertainers that are here, and this gentleman at my left -- your name again -- [laughter] -- the great golfing friend -- but all of you, there's no way to thank you for being here, for what you've done, and what you mean in all of this.

And I thought maybe to have something to say I could, in the little bit of time that is allotted us here, bring you up to date on a news bulletin that I know you're interested in. The latest report that I have received is that our -- and I refuse to call them hostages -- our prisoners of war have landed some time ago in Algeria and in the last bulletin were preparing to board the American planes that will take them to Wiesbaden, Germany. The other part of the report was that there are 52 of them, and they're all sound, hale, and hearty.

But now, I don't know whether you were aware of this or not, but there are others attending this ball and the others that are being held here in Washington, 10 in all. In that first inaugural almost 200 years ago, the people, the Americans went to that by horseback and stagecoach. Today all over America and even abroad, in Paris, France, Americans are attending these balls, dancing to the same music that you're hearing here, because they're going to them by satellite, by closed-circuit satellite.

Somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 cities, Paris, France, and here in the United States, these other cities are holding balls. They are connected, large-screen, closed-circuit television bounced off the satellite, hearing the same music. And in this particular moment that I'm speaking, I know that I am speaking also to them. We haven't hit on them at the same time or the right time at any of the other places we've been to tonight, but on this particular occasion.

So, I can say to all of them, to all of you who were there in Paris, France, in all those other cities in America, God bless all of you. And thank you for what you're doing, because in those cities, the proceeds are going to the local charities of those communities where the balls are being held.

[To Mrs. Reagan] You look very pretty tonight. I think she looks gorgeous, as a matter of fact. On the way over someone said, well, when we got here, we might even have a minute or two to dance, and I don't think so. Well, they've got us in public housing, and we'll dance when we get the heck there.

But, again, this morning was one thing, but you were all so far away. Tonight you're up close, and I can see you. And this is the sixth of the balls that we've attended. We have four more to go after this. But I want you to know, in looking at you and seeing you, I've never been more certain in my life that the things we want for America, the things that need doing for America, between us, we're going to get them done.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

Pension Building (11:09 p.m.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I don't think I have to tell you that Bob Gray, who just introduced me, Charlie Wick, his lovely lady, the cochairman of the whole inaugural ceremony and all of the events that have taken place, what a job they've done and what a several days they have given us in this inaugural.

And our host and hostess at this ball, Joe and Holly Coors, and the wonderful entertainers, the music, and the entertainers who have given of their services to be here and make these events successful, and especially all of you for being here and what you've contributed and what you've done to make this a success -- we're very grateful.

I have been now -- this is number seven. [Laughter] They tell us, by the time we get through, we'll only have spent 4\1/2\ hours doing this. But it's been great to see all of you and to see all of you up close.

And I've been trying to bring at the least the latest news bulletin that I have, and that is that our -- and I've been refusing to call them hostages -- our prisoners of war have been now for some time in Algiers. They have deplaned. And our last bulletin -- and that was some time ago -- was that they, 52 of them, healthy and sound, were getting ready to embark in the American planes for Wiesbaden, Germany.

You've been in here, so I don't know whether you've been outside to see that that Christmas tree, which for two Christmases has not been lighted, the lights are on tonight.

Now, your ball here is characterized by something else, also, and I want to pay recognition that the diplomatic corps, all the countries stationed here, Washington, D.C., are present at this ball. And I want to bid them welcome, look forward to a meeting with them in the days shortly ahead.

Now, there's something else about tonight that's kind of special. You're here in this inaugural ball. There are 10 of them going on in Washington, D.C. There was one, I guess, almost 200 years ago, when our first President was inaugurated, and at that time the people came by horseback and stagecoach. Tonight there are 10 in Washington, but there is one in Paris, and there are in the neighborhood of 100 in that many different cities throughout the United States who are attending these inaugural balls by satellite, not stagecoach. They are hearing the same music. They are seeing this on large-screen television. It is being bounced off a satellite and carried to them -- a portion of each one of the balls that is going on here in Washington -- hearing the same music and all.

And in those communities, the proceeds are going to the local charities of those communities in which they're being held. May I say, there's a certain amount of symbolism in that. That's the first step in seeing that some people are being able to keep their money in their own community. We'll see if we can't do more of that.

But they've told us that we only have a few minutes to interrupt, and I know that you have great entertainment in store for you. [Shouting from audience] I didn't hear what he said. [Shouting from audience] Well, I can't. We've got four more to go before we get back to our public housing. [Laughter]

So, I said earlier, it's so wonderful to see you up close, because this morning you were all quite a distance away. But seeing you up close just makes me believe my own words, spoken this morning, more than ever: Together, we're going to do what has to be done. I know that you can do it.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

[At this point, the President and the First Lady danced.]

That's our first dance at one of these inaugural balls.

National Air and Space Museum (11:33 p.m.)

Charles Wick and his lovely wife, Mary Jane, and Bob Gray, the cochairmen of this whole inaugural from the first event several days ago, right on up and through tonight, I think have done a magnificent job, and lovely Liz Taylor, Senator John Warner, her husband, Senator and Mrs. Jepsen of Iowa, and you, ladies and gentlemen:

We're so happy to be here. You're number seven so far -- no, number eight, and they tell us that by the time we complete the circuit, it will have taken about 4 hours and a half.

But now, speaking of time, I have been figuring that I could take advantage of these meetings to give you a little update on the news. I think you'll be happy to know -- and all evening I've been refusing to call them hostages; I refer to them as prisoners of war -- but you'll be happy to know that they're in the American planes and roughly only an hour and a half away from touchdown in Wiesbaden, Germany.

And maybe you've been in here, and so you haven't noticed that that tree in Washington that hasn't been lighted for 2 years, the lights are on now.

But this is so wonderful to see all of you and to have a chance to thank you.

There is another thing that unusual, thanks to these chairmen that I have just spoken of and how hard they have worked on all of this inaugural. Almost 200 years ago there was an inauguration of the first President of the United States, and the people who came to that one inaugural ball and that inaugural ceremony came on horseback or by stagecoach. Tonight there are people all over America who are attending these balls by satellite, including in Paris, even -- Americans there by closed-circuit, big-screen television. In somewhere near a hundred cities, there are people who are dancing to and hearing the same music that you are listening to, that are joining you and seeing all of you on that screen. The program is taking turns dropping in at each of the separate balls that are being held here and in each of those communities.

The proceeds are going to the charities that they have chosen in their own communities that they should go to. And I think there's something kind of symbolic in that. Here we are on the first night, and there are communities that are keeping their money at home. We're going to do our best to see that the idea catches on.

But I know we only have a few moments, because as I told you, we're on quite a circuit. But this morning it wasn't too easy to see you; you were quite a distance away. It's wonderful to be able to see you up close, because you reinforce my own belief in my own words more and more as I see you here, that together, we're going to do the things that have to be done. We're going to have a new beginning.

Thank you all very much, and God bless you. Thank you.

Museum of Natural History (11:47 p.m.)

Ladies and gentlemen, Bob Gray, just introducing me there, and with him Charles Wick. They are the cochairmen who have been working for months and months and put together what I think has been one of the most wonderful several days of inaugural parties and affairs that we've ever seen. I'm so grateful to the entertainers who have donated their services, to Hugh O'Brien and Carol Lawrence, Johnny ``Scat'' Davis, the others who are here, the music that we've been hearing, and seeing all of you.

And I want to thank all of you, because you, of course, without you there wouldn't be this successful inaugural. And thank you very much.

I've been trying to keep people apprised a little bit of one of the news bulletins that I think is of interest to all of us. And the latest word is, and I'm sure you'll be happy to know -- I have been refusing all evening or before that to refer to them as hostages; they're prisoners of war. Well, these POW's are only minutes away from landing in Wiesbaden, Germany. I don't know whether you've been outside or not to see this, but that tree that hasn't been lighted for two Christmases is lighted tonight.

Well, it's wonderful to see you. And speaking of these gentlemen who put this together, this whole inaugural, I think it's kind of interesting and, in fact, it's exciting and thrilling that once upon a time, almost 200 years ago at the first inaugural, the people arrived by horseback or stagecoach for the inauguration ceremony and the inaugural ball. Tonight all over the United States and even in Paris, Americans there are attending these balls by satellite. It's the first time it's ever been done. But they are holding balls somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred cities -- and large-screen television -- they are participating in these balls. They are hearing the music that you are hearing. A portion of their total ball is coming from each one of the 10 balls that are being held here in Washington.

And what I think you'd like to know is that the proceeds in those balls is going to the local charities designated by the local people as to where they want the money to go in their community. And I like to think there's a little symbolism in that, that those communities are starting already on this first day to keep their money at home. We're going to see if we can't make that catch on a little.

This morning you were all so far away. Now you're up close, and I can see you. And I know we have to move on, because we have others that we've got to get to. But seeing you up close just reinforces my faith and belief in what I said this morning, that together, you bet we're going to do the job. We're going to solve these problems and have a new beginning.

God bless you, and thank you very much. Thank you.

Museum of American History (12:04 a.m.)

Ladies and gentlemen, I just have been touring all these balls tonight. I can't help but each time call attention to the fact that Charles Wick, his lovely wife, Mary Jane, Bob Gray, all of them, they have been the cochairmen of this whole inaugural program, every phase of it. And what they have done I think is most remarkable. And I'm deeply indebted to them, and I'm sure we all are. And my thanks to Hugh O'Brien, to Pat Boone, to Carol Lawrence, to all the other entertainers who've entertained here to the lovely music.

And I've tried as the evening has gone on and now -- well, we started out last night to tour the balls, and now here we are this morning, here with yours. But I have tried to bring at least in my remarks a little update of a bulletin that I'm sure is of interest to all of us. And so, the last Bulletin I can give tonight to you here is that -- I don't call them hostages; I call them prisoners of war -- earlier this evening I was able to announce that they had landed in Algeria and were preparing to board the American planes to go on to Germany. And I am happy to say now that they are only minutes away from landing in Wiesbaden, Germany.

How are you? Good to see you. My cousins from back in Illinois are all down there. Eureka?

Listen. Let me just go on and say, though, that it's wonderful -- this morning you were all so far away. It's wonderful now to see you up close. And we've, as I say, we've been touring all of the balls here this evening. And there's somehting unusual about this inaugural, that, thanks to those chairmen I spoke about, that has never taken place before. In the first inaugural almost 200 years ago, the people who went to that went on horseback or by stagecoach. Tonight there are people in somewhere near a hundred cities in our country and in Paris, Americans there who are attending these balls. They are going by satellite -- it has never been done before -- by closed-circuit television, including all of the 10 balls that are on here. Various periods of time they switch from ball to ball, and those people have been dancing to the same music that you've been hearing here. They have been actually seeing you and enjoying the ball with you at each one of them.

And it's also, I think, kind of symbolic, I like to feel, well, even though it is the next day now, this inaugural day, it's kind of symbolic that the proceeds of all those balls will stay in those communities and be distributed to the charities that they have chosen to receive them. Anyway, I think that that's kind of a good symbol, that money staying at home, and I hope the idea is going to catch on.

Now, as I say, you're closer, and I can see you. And I am just more convinced in my own mind of the truth of what I said this morning. When I see all of you, there isn't anything that's going to stop all of us together from doing what has to be done in this country. We're going to do it.

God bless you all, and thank you. Thank you very much.

Do you mind if I have the last dance with my lady?